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Classroom Happenings: Young Readers, Big Dreamers

The Steward School
The magic of an author visit
What happens when a bestselling author visits Steward? Just ask Spartans in grades 3-5, who recently welcomed A.F. Steadman to campus!

Ms. Steadman traveled from the U.K. to speak to students on February 20 about how she brings her story ideas to life in her hit middle-grade fantasy series, “Skandar and the Unicorn Thief.” Students had the opportunity to order signed copies of Ms. Steadman’s books through local bookstore bbgb, which were delivered to Steward before the event. 

Lower School Librarian Carlee Cutchin facilitated the visit and said students were overjoyed to meet one of their favorite authors.

“She has rock-star status in their eyes!” said Ms. Cutchin. “Third graders recently read ‘Skandar and Unicorn Thief,’ which tells the story of 13-year-old Skandar, who dreams of being a unicorn rider. Students adore this book, which is brimming with magical twists and turns.”

The Write Stuff
Ms. Steadman started off her talk visit by asking students, “What do you think of when you think of unicorns?” prompting lots of hands to shoot into the air. 

“I think of my sister’s bedroom!” exclaimed one student, which elicited lots of laughter. After giving an extensive overview of the “Skandar” plot, Ms. Steadman told the audience about herself using a “two truths and a lie” format in which students had to guess which “truths” were real. Ms. Cutchin noted, “She previously had a career as a lawyer, and the kids loved seeing photos of the wigs that lawyers wear in the U.K.!”

Students then collaborated by dreaming up their own book character: a silver spirit unicorn named Nightmare’s Haunt. They called out plot ideas, and as fast as she could, Ms. Steadman jotted them on a large whiteboard. In a matter of minutes, our young readers had crafted their very own story, which featured Nightmare’s Haunt and John Lee ’32 as the unicorn rider! 

“I never get used to hearing kids talk about something I wrote,” Ms. Steadman shared, “especially when I’m far from home.” 

Arwen Wolmuth ’31 enjoyed learning more about one of her favorite books. 

“What I enjoyed most was that Ms. Steadman explained the book and helped us understand what happened in the story,” said Arwen, who also loves the book series “Percy Jackson” and “Serafina.”  

All Spartans benefit from beyond-the-traditional classroom experiences, and chatting with authors is an exciting way for students to learn, grow, and imagine. 

Meeting authors, said Ms. Cutchin, “helps students make connections between the books they read and the people who create them. They also ‘dream big’ when they see that hard work and creativity can make stories come alive.” The most exciting thing about Ms. Steadman’s visit, she added, “is that kids are reading her books and talking about them! Reading brings students together.”


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The Steward School
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Richmond, VA 23238

phone: (804) 740-3394
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